Woman convicted of leaving scene of deadly crash - Bonner County Daily Bee: Local News

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Woman convicted of leaving scene of deadly crash

Knapp faces up to five years in prison

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Posted: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 10:00 am

SANDPOINT — A Bonner County jury convicted a Sandpoint woman Tuesday of leaving the scene of a deadly crash on Highway 200 last year.

The jury of nine women and three men deliberated for less than two hours before unanimously finding Brianna Lucille Knapp guilty of the felony offense. Knapp closed her eyes and stifled back tears as the verdict was announced.

Knapp faces up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine when she is sentenced in 1st District Court on Feb. 18. Knapp remains free on her own recognizance while the case is pending.

The charge arose from back-to-back nighttime crashes in a construction zone east of Clark Fork on July 24, 2012. The westbound lane of the highway was a few inches higher than the eastbound one as a result of the resurfacing project.

Idaho State Police said Kurt Henson was riding westbound when he veered into the lower eastbound lane and attempted to regain the westbound lane, but lost control of his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Henson and his passenger came off the bike when it went onto its side. At least two witnesses stopped at the scene to see if help was needed.

Knapp, meanwhile, was also westbound in a Dodge pickup truck and closing in on the scene of the crash. Witnesses on Monday testified that the truck drove over the toppled motorcycle and the fallen Henson without decelerating or swerving.

The Dodge became disabled and Knapp abandoned the truck. She initially told investigators that she hitchhiked to her former home in Clark Fork, but revised her earlier account and stated that she walked a short distance to a picnic table within view of the procession of law enforcement and emergency vehicles that came and went from the scene.

Henson, a 47-year-old Post Falls resident and off-duty Spokane Police officer, died at the scene. His passenger, Kimberly Lenox, survived. Knapp, 27, was arrested the day after the crashes.

Knapp was not charged with causing or contributing to Henson’s death, although much of Tuesday’s testimony focused on dueling crash reconstruction experts’ interpretation of the events leading to his death.

The defense’s expert, William Skelton, testified that Knapp likely never even saw the downed Harley because the bottom of it was pointing in her direction when she encountered it.

Skelton also attributed a forward bend in the right handlebar to Henson’s body hitting it and said there was no evidence that she drove over Henson.

A tearful Knapp testified that she did not believe she collided with anything more than an imperfection in the road surface

“I figured it was a rough lane edge,” Knapp told the jury, adding that she was unaware of injuries or a loss of life until she was confronted by sheriff’s investigators.

State police crash reconstruction expert Allen Ashby disputed Skelton’s findings and said the handlebar bent forward because the bike rotated and slid backward down the highway. Moreover, paint from the Harley was transferred to the Dodge’s undercarriage, indicating that Knapp’s rig did indeed hit the bike.

The crash expert testimony was essential to the state’s case because an element of the charge required a finding that Henson was injured in the collision with Knapp’s vehicle.

During closing arguments, Bonner County Public Defender Dan Taylor downplayed the offense as a “glorified misdemeanor” and said nobody could definitively say how Henson got hit. Taylor also emphasized Knapp’s testimony that she was unaware of hitting anything or anybody.

“Did she know or didn’t she know she was involved (in a collision)? All of evidence suggests that she didn’t know,” Taylor told the jury.

Deputy Prosecutor Roger Hanlon told the jury that Knapp had a duty to Henson — not law enforcement — to remain at the scene and said her decision to stay out of sight following the crash was telling.

“Why would a person sit there all night long and watch all that activity?” Hanlon asked. “The answer is because she knew that this incident was much more serious than she has acknowledged.”

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  • ski2work posted at 11:26 pm on Fri, Dec 13, 2013.

    ski2work Posts: 633

    This soap opera is appalling.

  • TonyaB posted at 11:13 pm on Fri, Dec 13, 2013.

    TonyaB Posts: 19

    After reading all these posts I have to agree with whomever said the family talks way to much, That is very apparent. I couldn't make heads or tails out of what Jules was even talking about. Lot of unanswered questions for how she broke her axle after hitting uneven pavement to saying she never even seen an accident? Why would you run if you didn't hit anything or have anything to hide. She wasn't charged with running him over just for leaving the area,. You would think that if she hit him it would show damage to the top of the bike and under her truck for some kind of paint or something. Yet that doesn't matter in the end she was not charged with his death.

    The best thing the family/supporters can do is stop talking and defending her she has been found guilty you maybe hurting her more than you think. This is not over until the Judge has the last word.

  • Corey Greve posted at 8:03 pm on Fri, Dec 13, 2013.

    Corey Greve Posts: 977

    Jules, are you saying that she did not run over the rider and his bike? The facts of the case appear to read that she did indeed run him over, but did not cause his death. Never heard any testimony or evidence that she swerved around him and broke her axle on a curb.

  • jules posted at 9:48 am on Fri, Dec 13, 2013.

    jules Posts: 32

    Thank you finally somebody really understands thank you thank you thank you Kendy. It's people like Rhonda that make everything worse just makes me sick.

  • RhondaK posted at 9:47 am on Fri, Dec 13, 2013.

    RhondaK Posts: 6

    May I add also, K is my middle initial not for my last name. I would hate to see some else get a bad rap for having the same name.

  • jules posted at 9:45 am on Fri, Dec 13, 2013.

    jules Posts: 32

    Well Rhonda sorry if I miss took you for the Rhonda at the store? But you still have no idea what your talking about! I have 2 dogs and two the lived to be 15 and 20 that are now gone. What is it too you who has what. We just want people like you to quit running there mouths on stuff you have no idea about you are just running on rumors and that's what ruins life's get your own and worry about yours. Plan and simple he would have not died if he was not drinking and driving and because he is a cop they had to blame somebody else and she was the one several people drove through the seen and did not stop but did they get put in jail or accused of hitting or his motor cycle no. But her axel broke when she it the curb in the middle of the road that was proven fact. The media and people like you are spreading false info and it needs to stop it's just gross.

  • Rhonda posted at 3:07 am on Fri, Dec 13, 2013.

    Rhonda Posts: 141

    Oh wow, I was wondering what in the world she was running on about? Sorry, I don't have a business. Nor will I, would I, or want to live in, on, or around Clark Fork!!!!! I'm from Sandpoint lived here most of my life with no plans of moving east. Maybe she's talking about Rhonda from the Squeeze Inn on the corner? RK. I used to date a friend of her dads back in the day but never went by the name of Rhonda actually Rhonda is the name of my dog I just use it as a screen name but for some reason everyone thinks they know who I am just by the name.

    The Henson family is in my prayers and also Brianna, may she come out of this a better stronger person & mother and I guess my words could have been not so harsh and for that I am sorry and some people do make mistakes in life no one is perfect.

  • RhondaK posted at 2:12 am on Fri, Dec 13, 2013.

    RhondaK Posts: 6

    How in the world do people slander a business or a person on how they live by a login name? My name is Rhonda and I have a small business in Bonner County (No way am I gonna name the town) I'm just going to make a stab at this and say she's from your home town or do you just think she is because she said she knew your family? Well I know her uncle and her dad I met them years ago, crap I may know the whole family lol, I believe she even had a aunt that married the guy that had the Ol' Boar's Breath but I may be mistaken about that was a long time ago. I've been to Clark Fork a hundred times.,

    I do agree with what most people are saying and what she's being charged with for leaving like she did and I can also see why the jury convicted her from her actions. her choice was wrong! Don't run if you have nothing to hide! some body died. may of not been because of her but she didn't stick around to find out. I have 3 children and I would be just heartbroken if someone just drove off. Good Luck and blessings to both families

    and I also have to add a good luck Rhonda from ?? with the store with the rotten meat!

  • Rhonda posted at 12:23 am on Fri, Dec 13, 2013.

    Rhonda Posts: 141

    OMG, rotten meat? Holy sheet where do you shop? Lol, you better spend that extra 10.00 and go to town lady! I have no idea what or who you're talking about, do you? Oh the smoke is thick tonight in someone's house! Dirty house wth, my house is only a couple years old and everything is brand new. Some one hasn't done her homework before pointing fingers and starting rumors! Wow, look at your house before you point fingers at others. Hypocrite!

    If Brianna doesn't spend some time behind bars Bonner County has let the victim, his family and friends down! I hope people will stop and think before being a coward and run and hide. I have never had children but if someone hit my son I would hope they would at least stop and see if he was ok or even my dog. Julie, you have a ton of dogs what if someone just did a "hit and run" left not knowing if your pet was dead or not on the side of the road? I don't care who you are your first instinct after hitting or running over something is to look in your rearview mirror and see what it was.....I wonder what Brianna seen in her mirror?

  • KendyFree posted at 11:21 pm on Thu, Dec 12, 2013.

    KendyFree Posts: 11

    What a horrible tragedy. It seems to bring out the worst in people. I have read all the articles in this paper and in others and if I were a tax payer I would be angry that Brianna is being prosecuted at all.

    Here is what I understand:

    The initial accident was misunderstood and misreported. Brianna did not run over the victim and in fact had no impact on his death.

    There was help on the scene when Brianna passed by hitting the construction object that sent this experienced bike rider to his death, and possibly the bike which he was no where near.

    The witness who reported the truck hitting the body was drinking and had taken a bang to the head.

    The deceased was a police officer who was drinking and driving on a motorcycle with a passenger on a dark and bad road.

    Brianna's truck broke down, for whatever reason she went near the scene and watched. I am sure she could observe that first responders were there.

    I assume Brianna was worried about not having a license and insurance.

    What difference does it make where she was headed?

    Could she have made a difference in the outcome of the accident if she had stopped? Not from what I read about the autopsy.

    Another vehicle came very close to injuring the survivor and EMTs.

    Just what is she being prosecuted for? Leaving the scene of an accident in which she played no role in and others were there. Did her leaving the scene in anyway impact the motorcyclist?

    Obviously, there is no question she left the scene. I will bet others drove by as well. So, is she being prosecuted (as by Rhonda) for because someone thought or thinks she was drunk? For past bad behavior.. again (Rhonda) Because the paper had already reported she hit the man without the proper facts?

    Driving without a license and insurance is a crime and she should and is being punished for that. This is America we don't prosecute people for what they might have done, have done in the past, or anything else that isn't proven. We don't hear from "Sally" that she is "driving again", and use that against her.

    I wonder how much money you are all paying for this case. Trials and accident reconstructions, hearings, sentencing, attorneys, delays, incarceration, and possibly punishment. If there is jail time, there will be further expenses for the children. For what purpose?

    A law enforcement officer drank around 6 beers, his blood alcohol levels were 2x the legal limit. He selected a vehicle without much in the way of safety restraints and crashed his bike. I am sure he was a good man who made a bad decision, it is a tragedy. Why isn't that enough. Why ruin a young mother's life over it as well?

    My daughter and Brianna were friends when they were little, I used to know her family, but I am not close with any of them and I just have to wonder... Why is this even in court. Why isn't the paper reporting the autopsy report. Why do they mention there was alcohol in Brianna's "Rig" (gotta love north idaho) every time the story is told, but the fact the motorcycle driver was drunk has only been published by the local paper once, and in a half sentence blurb?

    It seems that someone Rhonda has personal, not legal issues with Brianna, but ... I am pretty sure no matter how good you are now, you would not want all of your past published on the front page of the news paper either. I know, because I saw some of it.

    Our justice system is supposed to protect and serve... Who is being served in this case?

  • jules posted at 11:08 pm on Thu, Dec 12, 2013.

    jules Posts: 32

    Also Rhonda you need to follow the case, she may not even go to prison you don't know nobody does yet, and if she does it will be because of people like you spreading false information don't talk about things you have no idea, not picnic table was mentioned any where just more rumors you spreading. Isn't it illegal for you to purchase stuff from Walmart to resale in your store? I will pay the extra 10.00 to go to town from now on and I think after people hear what you have been saying they will to you sell rotten meat and the place is filthy gross like your house from the rumors I have heard [wink][beam][sad][smile]

  • jules posted at 10:54 pm on Thu, Dec 12, 2013.

    jules Posts: 32

    I don't go to the bars to hear the stupid rumors but you go ahead and pull up two bar stools that's what it will take to hold you up.[beam][beam][beam][beam][beam]

  • jules posted at 10:48 pm on Thu, Dec 12, 2013.

    jules Posts: 32

    She said she was going the store not pharmacy! Your just going by rumors not truth and if she had been drinking it would have showed in the blood test she took the next morning! I have read the autopsy and she would have gotten a DUI. You say you know the whole family you don't know use you just know what rumors go around well there is a lot about you and I don't read into those know your facts before you open you big fat mouth your going to lose business over this and you sure are not perfect nor am I. Stop acting like a little bitch keep your unwanted comments to your self just because you are so unhappy in your own life doesn't mean you have to try and make somebody else look bad. I really thought better of you but you shoed your true colors fake ass bitch pig.

  • Rhonda posted at 9:39 pm on Thu, Dec 12, 2013.

    Rhonda Posts: 141

    Julie, Brianna is going to prison because she left the scene of a crime not because she "killed someone". Omg, please follow the case a little better.

    Ok Aunt Julie, Maybe you can answer the questions everyone has been wanting to know .....What, pharmacy is open after 10pm to fill a prescription in our area?? #2 Why did she run on foot after her truck was disabled after hitting uneven pavement and not a person (like she stated) ?? #3 after sitting at a picnic table for hours watching this movie play out. why wouldn't she see if anyone was hurt?? We all know why she needed to sober up before she turned herself in. Be truthful Julie, you wondered the same thing and had questions of your own. We do share the same friends and like I've stated before between her and her family talking I'm surprised she didn't get life plus 25yrs!

    I'm sure your not going to answer the questions anyways nor does it matter. I guess what matters is the Jury believed her story in the end.. lol "NOT!!" they gave her a heavy dose of KARMA after only "One hour" of deliberation. Lets all just hope she gets the 5 year max for running like a coward!

    Now defend what she has done! Oh yeah, re: "SHAME SHAME SHAME ON YOU AND YEA KARMA WILL GET YOU." ouch, yes it did get her! [sad]

  • jules posted at 6:44 pm on Thu, Dec 12, 2013.

    jules Posts: 32

    Shame on you Rhonda you don't know us at all and you were not there SHERLOCK. YOU DONE LOST OUR BUSINESS. HE WAS almost three time the limit he new better if he hadn't been drunk there would have never been an accident in the first place that's all there is too it. SHAME SHAME SHAME ON YOU AND YEA KARMA WILL GET YOU.

  • Rhonda posted at 1:09 pm on Thu, Dec 12, 2013.

    Rhonda Posts: 141

    Sherlock, I've known Brianna for a long time and her family talks way to much. If you read other articles or Google her name you will see she had alcohol in a cup in her truck when it was found. She ran because she was under the influence and needed to sober up before turning herself in (that came from a family member).. She was seen driving almost everyday on her suspended lic. from a past DUI. so that night was no different she made up a story about getting a prescription filled for one of children. Most drugstores close in town at 6pm or so, this was after 10pm where was she going?

    Clark Fork is a small town just pull up a bar stool you'll find the answer's if you have a question.

    Like someone said Karma was going to get her one day for all she has done. I do feel bad for her children they have had a hard hard life.

  • Sherlock posted at 11:45 am on Thu, Dec 12, 2013.

    Sherlock Posts: 1325

    Rhonda: Nowhere in the article does it say she was drunk. You indicate she was.

    What's the truth ? Are you making something up ?

    Had she been drinking ? Was she drunk ?

    Pretty scurrilous accusation.

  • Rhonda posted at 7:57 pm on Wed, Dec 11, 2013.

    Rhonda Posts: 141

    Well said re: “Why would a person sit there all night long and watch all that activity?” Hanlon asked. “The answer is because she knew that this incident was much more serious than she has acknowledged.”

    & she is a drunken coward.......People that hit a dog or cat will pull over and see if it's still alive not run away and hide.